Making Dreams Happen
When I graduated from college I looked around and quickly realized that everyone is improvising, learning, daring, and growing. Some are dreaming and others are regretting. No one really has it all figured out. If you don’t believe me, just look through your Facebook news feed and read between the Likes. There’s excitement, pride, nostalgia, new relationships, disappointment, aspirations, new locations.
Welcome to being human. You aren’t expected to know every detail about your future. If you had it all figured out, when would you have time for the amazing unknown? Would you welcome love, even if it comes earlier than you expected? Would you feel restless because love is delayed four years? Would you take the job where you could excel quickly, or would you take the job where you’d have to learn new things?
Of course, you should not just follow your emotions and the occurrences around you. If you want to be successful – which I define as an ongoing process of improving yourself – you have to make choices and be pragmatic. You need to hope. Hope for anything, but create aspirations that fill your life with purpose and options that will guide you to that road of improving yourself and becoming the kind of person you want to be.
As a kid in the backseat, I would look out the window and imagine myself running and jumping along the telephone lines at the same speed of our minivan. I planned my dream wedding sitting in geometry in high school instead of learning about vertices. And when that dream didn’t work out in my early twenties, I moved on to planning my Great Gatsby birthday party theme on Pinterest.
I didn’t dream of anything particularly big or extraordinary. But I dreamed. And I wondered about what dreams would be worth having and chasing in my future. Having open-ended dreams gave me the confidence to believe that anything is possible, and I began to discover dreams I had never dreamt about. And that if a dream doesn’t work out, I can find a new one the next day. No, I’m not quoting the Disney movie Tangled. (Okay, maybe.)
When opportunities came my way, I took them. And they took me from across a stage to receive the first college degree in my family, to Vespa rides in Madrid, to hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro, to the deep jungle in Peru, to many adventures that happened because I said yes.
Of course, I had a share of saying yes to far too many things, missing flights, changing in my car in between events, and forgetting to file FAFSA because I was too busy having gelatos in Siena, but it all made the good moments taste even better; I am finding the right balance.
Here are a few scenarios where we can be tempted to skip out on great opportunities, but won’t, because we are dreamers and doers:
When love comes your way and it’s just not practical.
Don’t be so quick to discard possibilities! There are many fish in the sea but this may be the best fish for you. Make time and make an effort to develop a relationship, even when it takes work. Pace yourself, but make time. If you have time to go to the restroom you have time to send a message to let someone know you care about them. Rule of thumb. This goes for friendship as well.
When the salary is upsetting but the culture is uplifting.
As mentioned above, relationships matter. Choose an environment where you feel motivated and challenged. Be aware of your financial situation and be smart or learn how to ask for a raise. But if the salary means you have to abandon your car and become a pedestrian, do it. Sacrificing a few luxuries or learning to live with financial discipline will simplify your life and declutter space so that you can think about the things that matter.
When everything looks amazing with the exception of your bank account.
A group of inspiring people has invited you on a trip that you believe happens once in your lifetime. You won’t be able to say yes to every trip, but choose one a year. Stop going to the movies or start tutoring on the side to support your savings for the trip. Ask people to sponsor you. You’d be surprised how many people genuinely care about your growth through an adventurous journey and want to share your excitement.
Identify the enemies of your dreams and confront them.
Financial irresponsibility, laziness, selfishness, procrastination – confront them, make a plan and kick them all out. Make room for dreams. Make time for people. Dream - and make it happen.